The Political Trial of Benjamin Franklin: A Prelude to the American Revolution

By Kenneth Lawing Penegar | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW

On the eve of America’s lurch toward independence Benjamin Franklin, the most famous of his countrymen in the world at large, was in London. The prospects for peace and the avoidance of civil war within the British Empire declined precipitously in the last two years of his stay. Franklin’s part in that dramatic shift is the story of this book. It explores the various decisions and choices Franklin made. He was then serving among other roles as agent for the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Both the consequences and assumptions of those decisions are examined, as well as their avowed purposes. Other facets, too, of Franklin’s life in that critical period, 1773–1775, are collected and focused to shed light on those decisions and their impact. The purpose of this Introduction is to reconstruct important elements of that wider context of related circumstances.


FRANKLIN’S SITUATION IN THE 1770S

First, there were his many roles and interests.

Several circumstances stand out from those several years of Franklin’s last stay in London. Perhaps the most notable of them is that Franklin wore so many hats that it is difficult to see how he kept them straight. He was there, from the start of this eleven-year stint, to finish the business of the Pennsylvania House in challenging the Penns’ hold on the charter and lands

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The Political Trial of Benjamin Franklin: A Prelude to the American Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents xi
  • Author’s Preface 1
  • Introduction and Overview 5
  • Chapter 1- A Duel in Hyde Park 21
  • Chapter 2- Private Letters, Public Causes 26
  • Chapter 3- Imperial over-Reach- The Polhical Context of the Letters 42
  • Chapter 4- Harvest of Sphe- Reaction in the London Press 50
  • Chapter 5- Preliminary Hearing 63
  • Chapter 6- Showdown in the Cockpit 75
  • Chapter 7- The Verdict 93
  • Chapter 8- Circles of Support 101
  • Chapter 9- Other Perils and Aftershocks 120
  • Chapter 10- Second Thoughts 135
  • Chapter 11- Going Home, Looking Back 147
  • Post Script 169
  • Afterword 171
  • Appendix- Essay and Verbatim Records 187
  • Acknowledgments 255
  • Selected Bibliography 257
  • Index 261
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